A Midwest Polar Plunge

March 15, 2012 by Tron Swanson

Midwest Staffing Polar Plunge

Considering the 70+ degree weather we are having it’s hard to believe that just a week ago we were plunging into the frigid waters of Lake Calhoun for the 2012 Polar Bear Plunge. Team “Frostitute” comprised of Midwest Staffing members and the staff and friends from Regions Hospital will assure you though, that March 3, 2012 was nothing less than a typical wintry MN day.

As we contemplate our level of sanity and try to come up with any excuse not to plunge, we are reminded of the great cause that brought us all together, the Special Olympic Athletes. It is through them that we find the motivation and the courage to take the plunge. This year the 25 member team raised $5,298 which will impact the lives of over 7,000 Special Olympic Athletes with Intellectual Disabilities across the state of Minnesota.

We will continue to create awareness and support for the Special Olympics Minnesota and encourage everyone to take the plunge. To see more pictures of the event visit Midwest Staffing facebook page or you can still donate here.


Be Original

March 01, 2012 by Justin Smith

"What has been will be again,
What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:9

For those who are unemployed these days it hard sometimes to stand out from the crowd. There's not much in business that most of us haven't already seen. There is a basic list of ideas that people do that has been recycled and rehashed for year and years. There are only so many types of career paths or job opportunities and sooner or later you realize that there are only so many ways to stand out and recognized.

I was leaving the health club the other day and forgot where I parked. I was looking for a black Mazda 3 with a license plate SPK129. I found a black Mazda 3 but when I looked at it's license plate, it had the characters SPK135. "How many cars are currently on the road in Minnesota?" I wondered. Well, as it turns out there were over 3.3 million licensed vehicles in Minnesota back in 2010. I don't know how many there are in 2012 but I imagine it's about the same. There are only 10 numbers and 26 letters used on the plates but somehow they create over 3.3 million unique plates. Wow!

Did you know there are only 7 whole notes in a musical scale? A,B,C,D,E,F and G. There are also half steps between them (sharps and flats) as well as octaves of the same note but essentially there are only 7 notes. Every piece of music you've ever heard or every will hear, every song ever written now or in the future will be created with some variation of the same 7 notes. Why don't all songs sound the same?

7 notes, 26 letters, 10 numbers, nothing new under the sun. Patterns in human behavior repeat themselves, and the fundamental building blocks of all creation are the same now as they have been for thousands of years. HOWEVER, we are capable of creating infinite combinations with these building blocks. Music becomes infinite by changing the way that the notes are combined and layered with other notes. Written communication becomes infinite by changing the sequence and combination of words with other words.

One of my favorite things about sales is the infinite creative possibilities. There are so many tools at our disposal. Our worlds become infinite by changing the way we combine and layer the things we imagine. Don't get caught in the rut of believing that there are only a few basic elements that have to be repeated and rehashed year after year. Create something new!

In business a word comingly heard is synergy. Synergy is taking ideas and combining them. Make a list of ideas you've used before and begin to overlap and combine them with each other. This creates new breakthroughs you may not have imagined. Take two favorite ideas, goals, themes, etc from last year and send them into a head-on collision. Take the mangled mesh that they create and see what new thing you have discovered. You might be disappointed, you might be surprised. But you will begin understanding one of the secrets of creation.

Be Original!


Does Requiring a High School Diploma qualify for Discrimination?

January 19, 2012 by Bridget Ortner
diploma

During a recent meeting with a client, we were asked if we were aware of the EEO’s opinion letter on high school diploma job requirements and discrimination under the Americans with Disability Act. We found the conversation to be very relevant given the fact that many employers have a standard hiring practice that generally requires a high school diploma.

Recently the EEOC issued an informal opinion letter stating that a high school diploma job requirement could be considered discrimination under the Americans with Disability Act. In their informal opinion letter, the EEOC stated the qualification standard that screens out individuals on the basis of a disability must be job-related and consistent with business necessity, or it may violate the ADA. Under the ADA, a qualification standard, test, or other selection criterion, such as a high school diploma requirement, that screens out an individual or a class of individuals on the basis of a disability must be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. A qualification standard is job related and consistent with business necessity if it accurately measures the ability to perform the job’s essential functions (i.e. its fundamental duties). Even where a challenged qualification standard, test, or other selection criterion is job related and consistent with business necessity, if it screens out an individual on the basis of disability, an employer must also demonstrate that the standard or criterion cannot be met, and the job cannot be performed, with a reasonable accommodation. See 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(6); 29 C.F.R. §§ 1630.10, 1630.15(b) and (c); 29 C.F.R. pt. 1630, app §§ 1630.10, 1630.15(b) and (c).

This means that for each position, the employer must take multiple steps to ensure they are not discriminating under the ADA. First, the employer must determine if the qualification standard of a high school diploma is job-related and consistent with business necessity. If the employer determines a high school diploma is job related, the employer must then determine whether the individual applicant whose learning disability kept him or her from obtaining a diploma can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Employers should keep in mind, that, if they are going to use this kind of qualification standard, they need to have a specific job related reason based in the qualifications for the position itself. Employers need to look at individuals on a case-by-case basis to determine if there is some type of reasonable accommodation that might allow the person to successfully perform the job.

Midwest Staffing is always glad to be a resource to our clients regarding the latest employment related legislation. If you have any questions regarding this issue or any others, please feel free to contact your local branch office.


SafeJourney Celebration of Courage

December 08, 2011 by Chris Kratochvil

Safe Journey Donation

In October’s article we shared a story about “A Safe Golfing Journey” which detailed Midwest Staffing’s Second Annual Golf Classic, which was hosted along with Firstat to enhance fundraising efforts for SafeJourney. At the Second Annual Golf Classic Midwest Staffing and Firstat were able to raise $1170 for SafeJourney which earned the companies a sponsorship table at SafeJourney’s 12th annual Celebration of Courage Event held on November 17th, 2011 at The Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.

Attendees from Firstat were Zach Knox and Christine Maxwell and Midwest Staffing was represented by myself, Michael Thoemke, Kelly Weedman and Josie Schwake. Besides being the Director of Sales at Midwest Staffing, I am a volunteer advocate for SafeJourney where I am a benefit board member and on call two shifts each month to support victims of domestic violence. With the support of the Midwest Staffing and Firstat Nursing team, along with many others in the community, this was the largest and most successful year in SafeJourney’s twelve year history of hosting this event.

Highlights of the evening included a social hour and silent auction that included a large list of items ranging from a handmade quilt, tickets to sporting events, various art works and electronics. Followed by an elegant dinner and a Live auction which also included 10 great items, such as an IPad2, a private helicopter ride, and 75,000 sky miles with a camera and $200 VISA for spending money to name a few.

If you would like to learn more about SafeJourney or become a volunteer you may call 763-520-4151 or email safejourney@northmemorial.com.

Photographs were provided by Melissa Rosky photography/Facebook. Click here to visit her facebook page.

Midwest Staffing Group and Firstat Nursing continue their commitment to giving back to the communities in which we work.


A Genuine Success Story

December 07, 2011 by Natasha Nixon

The job market is fierce. The competition is plentiful and the opportunities are few. When looking for a job there are the usual avenues to explore, Craigslist, Monster.com, the local newspaper, etc., and you may even have success with any or all of these options. They didn’t work for me, however.

Author Writing

After being out of work for almost two months, and spending entire days online scouring the websites listed above only to be either beat to the door by someone else, ignored or rejected I decided I had to find another avenue to go down. I knew that I needed to find some contacts in my field of web design, since I had already exhausted the ones I had. You can only email and call people so many times before they start to get annoyed.

With everyone turning to social media to stay in touch it seemed like as good a place as any to put the word out that I was looking for work and to do some fancy networking as well. I started with my Facebook account, hoping that between all my 261 “friends” someone would see my desperate cry for employment and either hire me or pass my name on to someone that would. While I did have some friends take notice of my dilemma on Facebook the advice that ultimately landed me a job was to make use of Linked In.

Linked In is the ultimate in networking. I signed on and entered the most detailed profile I could, and then uploaded my address book and got to work. I was amazed by the connections I found through people I already knew. It turns out that the reason I didn’t have any success through the people I had already approached was that it was someone in my outer circle that had the connection I needed and was able to introduce me to my new employer.

If you are looking for work, I highly recommend looking towards social media and developing your own network. Not only is it easy, it’s fast. I found a job through Linked in within 48 hours after wasting months looking the conventional way.


Holiday Gift Tax Issues

December 05, 2011 by Bridget Ortner

Have you been considering giving your employees a gift card or other small gift item during this Holiday season? If so, you may need to consider the tax issues associated with these fringe benefits. Currently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) advises employers that all fringe benefits, like gift cards are considered taxable wages unless they are excluded by a section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

You may be wondering if there are any non-taxable gifts that you can safely give during this Holiday season. According to the IRS, employers can provide items that are considered de minimis. Examples of these gifts include tickets to a sporting event/concert/theater event, a Holiday group meal, flowers and other low priced traditional gifts that don’t have a cash value.

Audit Gift

For example, the employer can provide a small gift on during the Holidays such as a mug with hot chocolate without any taxable issues to the employee. However, if the employer gives the employee a gift certificate to a coffee shop to purchase the items, it could create a situation where the employee could receive cash back. In this situation, the gift card/certificate would not be considered a non-taxable gift.

If you have any questions regarding the IRS Code, please contact your branch office or legal counsel. As an additional resource, you can reference the following guides published by the IRS: Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide and the Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, Publication 15-B.


Walgreens Shares Success Secret

November 09, 2011 by Tron Swanson
Celebrate Opportunity

On Monday, November 1 from 10:30AM to 1PM Midwest Staffing team members, Chris Kratochvil, Justin Smith, Dan Webinger and Mary Verdeja along with Firstat's Brian Thoemke, attended “Celebrate Opportunity” an Opportunity Partners event. The event was an executive networking and business recognition luncheon to celebrate and learn how people with disabilities enhance our workplace. Midwest Staffing and Firstat donated $1,250 to help people with disabilities add value to the Twin Cities area.

The “Celebrate Opportunity” networking luncheon was hosted by Frank Vascellaro from WCCO-TV with keynote speaker Randy Lewis, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management for Walgreens. Walgreens the largest pharmacy chain in the United States is one of the strongest supporters of Opportunity Partners by integrating people with disabilities into their workforce, marketplace and supplier chain. Randy discussed the success Walgreens has had by integrating Opportunity Partners workers into their distribution channels. They plan to increase the employment percentage of employees with disabilities by 20 percent. This is Walgreens secret to success; with this in mind your business should consider contacting Opportunity Partners.

Other than having the privilege of listening to Guest speaker Randy Lewis, the luncheon also included a speed networking session. Speed networking is similar to speed dating, a timed round robin where professionals meet to exchange contact information and their companies goals and history. Afterwards professionals decide on whom they will connect with or where they can utilize their product or service. A few businesses that Chris Kratochvil of Midwest Staffing connected with were Graybow HD, Minnesota Life College and Anchor Insurance Agency.

Besides a great networking event Midwest Staffing and Firstat fully intend to participate in this event again November 1, 2012. Not only to connect with other business professionals but to support the added value and the impact Opportunity Partners has on our community.


NLRB Postponing

November 02, 2011 by Bridget Ortner
nlrb logo

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has postponed the effective date of its new rule that mandates private employers post a notice of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The rule was originally scheduled to go into effect on November 14, 2011 has been postponed to January 31, 2012. The NLRB felt the additional eleven weeks will help employers prepare to comply.

According to the NLRB, the postponement will allow for, “enhanced education and outreach to employers, particularly those who operate small and medium sized businesses.” The board determined that some employers were confused over which businesses were required to comply with the statute. The posting requirements of the NLRB depend on the extent in which a company engages in interstate commerce. Because the posting requirements are rather complex, almost all private-sector employers are subject to the act and should prepare to be in compliance on or before January 31, 2011. A printer friendly version of the government issued publication can be found here.

If your organization has any compliance questions, your local Staffing office is always a resource. Please feel free to contact any of our offices with questions or concerns!


Who You Know

October 14, 2011 by Tron Swanson

My younger sister Jonica transferred from Central Lakes College to St. Cloud State University for the 2011 Fall Semester to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Once arriving in St. Cloud she was faced an issue that plagues thousands of Americans… finding a job.

waitress

Jonica spent several days/weeks filling out applications to local restaurants and retail stores and hadn’t heard from any of them and never received a single interview. Finally she reached out to me for support. Jonica was doing the most important step by taking the initiative of completing the application and placing it in the manager’s hands. However she was dropping the ball in one major area. Jonica wasn’t utilizing her network, one of the most important reasons for her inability to acquire an interview. Once she began contacting first and second degree connections, she quickly landed two interviews, one for “Grizzly’s Bar and Grill” and the other “Red Lobster”.

The “Red Lobster” connection was made through our Brother’s > Girlfriend’s > Dad’s > Girlfriend. Yes that is a long degree of a connections but the outcome was rewarding. The second interview with “Grizzly’s Bar and Grill” she received because of a long line of connections she wasn’t utilizing, including myself, my sister, my brother and my wife. Even though Jonica’s application included our sister’s name Jenae who had been an excellent employee there for many years and still well know with the current management, her application was overlooked among the stack of other capable applicants. Once I heard that she was applying at “Grizzly’s Bar and Grill” I quickly reminded her that my brother, my wife and I play volleyball with one of the managers one of whom she herself has played with.

While in the interview the manager was surprised to learn that Jonica was Jenae’s sister and was overlooked. This is a prime example on why it is important for everyone to follow up and reach out to your connections.

If you are a job seeker you probably aware of the grueling application process especially if you are facing this alone. Alleviate some of the struggle by reaching out to friends, family, neighbors and even your parent’s > neighbor’s > friend’s > Cousins to help get your foot in the door.


A Safe Golfing Journey

October 03, 2011 by Tron Swanson
Mike Thoemke Golfing

On Thursday September 22, 2011 Midwest Staffing held their Second Annual Golf Classic. This year's Golf Classic was located at the Oak Marsh Golf Course in Oakdale, MN. To enhance our fundraising efforts for SafeJourney this year, Midwest Staffing has partnered with their sister company Firstat Nursing and raised $1170 for this great cause. SafeJourney is a nonprofit organization at North Memorial Medical Center focusing on assisting domestic abuse victims and has helped 1,295 victims in 2010.

Chris Kratochvil, Director of Sales for Midwest Staffing Group, is a volunteer for SafeJourney and a benefit board member for SafeJourney. Chris is on call once per month to assist and support victims of domestic violence. Chris provides guidance and counseling to help the victims, and free their life from violent situations and most importantly he listens to them.

The Golf Classic consisted of teams of 4 at different hole starting with shotgun start simultaneously and was a best ball scramble. The men's team had a course breaking record score of 53 and won the grand prize of 4 lower level tickets to the Minnesota Vikings vs. the Denver Broncos donated by Michael Thoemke and Midwest Staffing. Other prizes were awarded for longest drive by a woman and a man, the longest putt and ball closest to the pin on a drive.

Participating donors:
Minnesota Timberwolves and Jim Buffo - 4 Lower Level Timberwolves tickets and a team signed basketball.
Oak Marsh and Midwest Staffing - 4 gift cards to the Oak Marsh Pro Shop.
Health Partners - Notebooks, toothbrushes, cell phone disinfectant and pens.

If you missed this opportunity to help SafeJourney another opportunity is coming up at their annual fundraiser "A Celebration for Courage". On Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at The Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis the event entails an elegant dinner, social hour, silent and live auction and a SafeJourney presentation. If you would like to attend, donate or contribute to the auction, please contact Jenny Kratochvil at 763-520-4151 or by emailing safejourney@northmemorial.com for more information.

To see photos from the event visit our facebook page. Also if you want to be notified about future events sign up to our monthly newsletter. Finally a special thank you, to all participants, sponsors and Oak Marsh Golf Course that made this event successful.


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